Finding a Venue, Part 1

The first wedding-related research I started was for our venue.  I knew that finding and booking a venue would mold the rest of our decisions – the date, the guest list (kind of), the vendors, but most of all, the feeling of our wedding.  I never really considered our wedding to have a “theme” other than “our wedding,” so finding the right venue with the right feeling was of the utmost importance.

When I started researching venues, I used all of the online tools I could find… in a few minutes.  You see, I don’t have the most patience, despite my obsessive need desire to make sure that I do thorough research before making a decision.  I googled wedding venues in the area, scoured recent weddings of friends on facebook, and looked at all of the local venues on the Knot, WeddingWire, and WeddingBee.  Nothing really stood out to me.  But there was one place in which I always dreamed of getting married…

This has been my dream since long before a wedding was on the horizon, since before I met Mister P (Master P?), and probably even before I thought about anything else wedding-related.  I just knew it was a gorgeous place, and a wedding there would be to. die. for.

Needless to say, it’s a pretty pricey option, and one that I was pretty sure was out of the budget.  So I put it on the back burner, chalked it up to being  just a dream and moved on with my research.

I should point out, too, that all of this research was being done without the input of my fiance.  Not because I’m a crazy person, per se, but he’s easily overwhelmed.  I knew it was a better approach to find something that I liked, make sure I knew all of the details already (prices especially) and have a plan in place before presenting him with my top few ideas, or else he would FREAK OUT.  And that’s no good for anyone.

I really wanted a “unique” venue, because I’m not a fan of hotels or banquet halls (even though MOH PT had a lovely wedding in a banquet facility last year), and I care A LOT (probably too much) about the look and feel of a venue.  I knew if I didn’t like the walls or carpet of a venue, it would get ruled out, regardless of what else it may offer to its credit.  We don’t belong to a church at the moment, so getting married in a church wasn’t really an option or a requirement either.  We were open to having our ceremony and reception at the same venue, or at two different venues, so I focused the search around places that allowed both.  I looked at the zoo, the aviary, the opera house, and a few gorgeous historical buildings and halls.  They all hold beautiful events.  Nothing really wooed me, though.  I gave up on the venue search for awhile, because truth be told, I had a lot of other things on my plate, and we couldn’t book anything at the moment anyway.

A few months later, I picked back up the search because I realized that we were 2 years out and I should probably get a move on making decisions, since it had been nearly 6 months since we got engaged.  I started sending emails for price quotes, and got serious about my choices.

I narrowed it down to 3 options:  Phipps Conservatory (I couldn’t give up the dream!), the Mayernik Center at Avonworth Park, and the North Park Boathouse.

Mayernik Center

I was really drawn to the park options because they were more budget-friendly, but they also meant more work organizing vendors and setting up ourselves.  Phipps, although more pricey, offered more of an “all-inclusive”-type event, where we mostly would just have to show up!

What were your criteria for choosing a venue?  Did you have a dream venue in mind?  Was booking your venue your first priority?

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